Maiden guarding the bridge over the river Gjoll (Hello, Ritalin)

Dear Internet,

A bottle of Methylphenidate (the generic for Ritalin) is currently keeping me company this evening, while I’m writing,  staring at me from across my desk. I eye it precariously for starting Saturday, I begin the regime that could potentially change my life. My prescribing doctor dressed up the benefits  like snake oil – allllll of the problems I’ve been experiencing for years that were often described as being part of my charming personality  and/or because I was lazy, lacked focus, or motivation (to name a few reasons) now has an official name. That name is ADHD and with that single diagnosis, my world just got a little bit clearer.

I say potentially for I’m scared. And skeptical. Delighted. But skeptical.

I’ve been rather sporadic about writing about my mental health updates, and I think part of it is how much I need to get clear in my own head before I present it to the world.  After I wrote this in October, I finally got the courage to call my old therapist and he scheduled me to meet with him within a few days. Since our first meeting, I’ve been seeing him weekly and having someone there, for it is the one true safe space I can dump, dump, dump and not have to explain, slash, define, remove, or edit in any form my thoughts, has been glorious. There is lot that is going on emotionally in the last year (lots and lots of loss) that I haven’t been dealing with coupled with all the new responsibility (house! job! husband!). I’ve been documenting, rather sporadically, my depression, anxiety, and other brain malaise this year but it’s not enough. I felt like I was at the end of my rope; not suicidal, but feeling like I was teetering on the edge. So much was happening! No explanation on how to handle or even, to cope. I felt like I was swimming in murk with no way past.

A month of visits goes by and Dr. P. makes a comment  that perhaps I was ADD and further clarified that while the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) was more than likely correct when I was diagnosed way back yonder, it’s not as evident now. This blew my mind. Finally, a diagnosis that made sense and explained not bits and pieces of my mentalness (as BPD did, as did Bipolar), but seemed to tie everything up in a nice tiny bow.

Except, I was diagnosed with ADHD (and bipolar) in 2005. For the last seven years, I’ve been clinging to this idea that I was strictly BPD and totally forgetting about the bipolar and ADHD. Seven years. Who forgets they were diagnosed with ADHD/bipolar for almost a decade? Apparently me. My then therapist sent me through DBT training, which I still use, but I dont’ remember doing anything for the bipolar or the ADHD. I remember she weaned me off the drugs that the medicating psychiatrist prescribed because part of the regime of DBT was that I was to be as drug free as possible. The only drug I remember being on, at that time, was Klonopin, which I take very sporadically now. (A prescription of 15 pills can last me a year, that is how sporadic it is.)  [When I started writing this in late November, I was taking Klonopin on a as needed basis. I’m now taking 1/2 of a .5 mg pill day. It’s helped. Tremendously.]

I have no memory of why the bipolar and ADHD were never addressed then. I also have no idea why my then therapist seemed more fixated on BPD then on the other disorders. The more that I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that she thought the DBT would give me skills that would carry over into the ADHD/bipolar world.

But no matter, let’s look to the present, and the future. Not wonder about what/ifs, for we’ll never get anywhere.

So, then, to the now. Dr. P. sends me off to a local ADD expert, who also has ADD himself. Today I spent an hour and some change working through the questionnaire and every light in my head is burning bright. Things that were often associated with other things (like I used to take work-ordered anger management class for my outbursts of anger — turns out, this is because of ADD). Things are finally starting to make sense. I knew I wasn’t depressed in the traditional sense, just always frustrated. Always not being able to figure things out. Dr. P. says the cycle goes from ADD causes my frustration, which builds up my anxiety, which then leads to my depressed state which starts the cycle all over again.

So tomorrow we start the Ritalin. I start with 1 pill, wait and document how I feel, take another and document how I feel and max this out at 3 pills. Ritalin is instantaneous. Effects are short (a few hours), which is why the build up the dosage. Clear head? Not wanting to be  so damned obnoxious (also apparently a trait – the talking out of turn)? Can this legal drug be my new snak eoil of hopes and dreams?

We shall see.